TACOMA, WA— The Tacoma Stars Reserves and Bellingham United have a respect and rivalry built over years of mutual success going back to the days of the old PASL Stars and WSA Rapids. The two perennial indoor powers will do battle on Saturday night January 27 in a Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL) match at the Tacoma Soccer Center in the latest installment of the series.
The Hammers come into the match with a perfect 6-0-0 record and just one win from clinching first place and home pitch throughout the upcoming WISL playoffs. The Stars Reserves are right behind with a 4-2-0 mark. Tacoma hopes to prevent the Hammers from celebrating on their pitch.
Earlier this season the two sides fought it out in Bellingham in an eventual 9-7 Hammers win. It took a flurry of late goals for BUFC to get that win (see video highlights below.)
The very first Western Indoor Soccer League Final was held at the Tacoma Soccer Center back in 2015. Of course it was the Stars versus Bellingham. That time Tacoma completed an unbeaten season with a 6-2 Championship win. Since then (’16, ’17) the Hammers have won both WISL Championships and are hunting for a third in a row in ’18.
When was the last time BUFC lost an indoor match? December 17, 2016 at the Olympic Force.
Keys to the Match
The keys for the Tacoma Stars Reserves are to keep the match close and low-scoring. TSR rely on defense to win matches. Their leading scorer Nate Ford has 7 goals. Compare that to the 13 of Bellingham’s Nick Cashmere and 12 of Hammer Richard Henderson. Which brings up key number 2 for Tacoma: Stopping that dynamic duo. Throw in a timely goal or two from Ford, and perhaps JJ Schmeck and / or Isidro Prado-Huerta, and you could have the recipe for a Tacoma win.
Bellingham United has been tested this year, but they always make the opponent crumble at the end. They’ve done this against the Olympic Force (twice) and also earlier against Tacoma and in Snohomish. Their game is one of possession and technique. The key to getting 3 points in Tacoma will be solving Tacoma goalkeeper Aaron Anderson and the smaller goals at the Tacoma Soccer Center and not getting thrown off their game.
The crowd might also be a factor. When the TSC is packed the place is buzzing. Bellingham United are used to their vocal support at home, but fans in the Far Post Bar overlooking one of the goals at the TSC are certainly going to be less than friendly.